Meetings are a communication and relationship building necessity. The art of connection and communication, getting different personalities, points of view and ideas to line up so everyone is on the same page is, many times, the goal. Unfortunately though, meetings are often unsuccessful in accomplishing that task and can even create more confusion due to lack of preparation.
Here are a few pointers on how to make meetings an effective and efficient use of your time…
1. Before the meeting, do your homework and know your material. Don’t just show up! Do your due diligence and have all the information you need already on hand before you arrive. Spend some time prepping beforehand. This applies as much to your personal state of mind as it does your research and other preparation. Being 100% focused and alert is essential to dynamic conversation. If you have spent time thinking over your meeting’s content, you will be able to communicate it succinctly and effectively.
2. Make the most of your time. From the moment the meeting is schedule until the second it has been wrapped up, be conscious of the time – both your own and of those attending. Do this in little ways, like confirming the time and place 24 hours in advance. And during the meeting, know your time limits and stick to them. The purpose of your meeting is communication, and nobody likes wasting time.
3. Set a clear goal. Define what you want the meeting to accomplish. A good way to make sure this goal is reached is to make an agenda. Even if your meeting is just one-on-one over a cup of coffee at the local Starbucks, have an agenda in your head of what you want to talk about and in what order – the other person doesn’t necessarily need to know it. Meandering without purpose is a waste of everybody’s time, and rarely helps true communication occur. Give yourself direction and a map to follow so you don’t get lost!
4. Anticipate questions and stay on track. In the time you spend talking or presenting, do your best to answer the questions those listening might have. Think things through from their perspective beforehand, and help your communication go farther by giving information that you know they will be looking for so they don’t have to ask for it. Then stay on topic. If another individual has off-topic questions, address the question, but keep the answer brief and let them know answers can be offered outside of the meeting/presentation.
5. Summarize at the end of the meeting. Don’t make this a rehash of the entire content of the meeting, but be sure to go over the main points again. If there were questions, repeat the answers. If there were decisions made, state the conclusions again. If there is action to be taken by you or others in the meeting, go over those points again as well. The more clearly – and concisely – you can communicate, the less room there will be for confusion after the fact.
Overall, the most important thing you can do to prepare for a meeting is to think things through ahead of time. If “those who fail to plan, plan to fail”, then giving appropriate planning and preparation to your meetings sets you up for success with your clients and leaves everybody happier in the end.
© 2011 Propel Businessworks (SET) – All rights reserved.